Animal Science Blog

Animal Science

The Animal Science Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about scientific and technological topics related to pets, livestock, and other animals. See how cutting-edge advances help - or hinder - species around the world.

Previous in Blog: Compass Cows – Cattle Aligned with Magnetic North   Next in Blog: Animals of the American West – Yellowstone National Park (Part 1)
Close
Close
Close
6 comments

A Woolly Mammoth’s Family Tree

Posted September 24, 2008 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

These days, it's not uncommon for animals on various continents to be related. Animals are flown to be relocated in wildlife refuges, or even bred in-vitro in zoos. But what about woolly mammoths? Shouldn't their relations be restricted to the same landmass, since they weren't exactly capable of travel by sea or air? Apparently not, thanks to the help of the Bering Strait land bridge.

It may help to learn a little history of the lineage of the woolly mammoth. The animals are thought to have descended from elephants that migrated north from Africa – and needed to evolve to grow shaggy coats to keep warm. After the last ice age (about 10,000 years ago), the species became extinct.

Woolly Mammoths – World Travelers?

Scientists from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario studied DNA samples from the teeth and jawbones of over 150 woolly mammoths, in addition to examining data already on file. The data concluded that over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, the animals migrated back and forth between Alaska and Eurasia four or five times.

Based on the radiocarbon dating and the DNA samples, it appears that the first woolly mammoths migrated from Siberia to North America about 700,000 years ago. The relocated animals would then have evolved separately, and therefore had slightly different DNA over the course of several-hundred thousand more years.

The woolly mammoths with the slightly different genes made their way back to Siberia about 300,000 years ago, and became extinct around 8,000 BC. The North American mammoths, on the other hand, lived until about 10,000 years ago – around 6,000 BC.

Why the Siberian woolly mammoths died out before the mammoths in North America, we're not sure. It may be that climate, or even humans, could have had an impact. Do you think the cavemen were thinking about global warming as the ice melted and the woolly mammoths died out?

Resources:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/09/080904-woolly-mammoth.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woolly_Mammoth

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/09/science/09obmamm.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/09/04/woolly-mammoth-arctic-02.html

http://www.current-biology.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS0960982208009706

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1160
Good Answers: 36
#1

Re: A Woolly Mammoth’s Family Tree

09/24/2008 10:24 AM

I think at that point the cavemen welcomed global warming with very open arms (at least the warming part).

Very informative entry. I like.

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - Lifelong New Yorker Popular Science - Biology - Animal Science Technical Fields - Technical Writing - Technical Writer

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 2409
Good Answers: 59
#2
In reply to #1

Re: A Woolly Mammoth’s Family Tree

09/24/2008 10:33 AM

Glad you learned something, Jaxy! I also thought it was interesting.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Tulare, CA
Posts: 1783
Good Answers: 35
#3

Re: A Woolly Mammoth’s Family Tree

09/25/2008 9:52 AM

I think they did worry about global warming.

I'm sure they were encouraged to make smaller camp fires and to use cleaner burning wood.

__________________
Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time but always enough time to do it over?
Reply
Guru
United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Gone to Alabama with my banjo on my knee...
Posts: 5595
Good Answers: 20
#4

Re: A Woolly Mammoth’s Family Tree

09/25/2008 10:11 AM

Wooly mammoths as world travelers - I guess they were very good at packing their trunks...

__________________
Veni, vidi, video - I came, I saw, I got it on film.
Reply
Anonymous Poster
#5

Re: A Woolly Mammoth’s Family Tree

09/28/2008 10:34 PM

This seems to be a quandary of mammoth proportions.

What... like no one else was thinking it ;)

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Earth. England/America -the birthplace of the C. S. A. - anywhere I imagine -home.
Posts: 773
Good Answers: 33
#6

Re: A Woolly Mammoth’s Family Tree

09/29/2008 2:04 PM

Obviously the ancestral forms of elephants and mastodons and mammoths were able to travel a number of land bridges in various climates. It is likely that predators as well as climate had an effect on their population. The climate changed so slowly that the cavemen weren't even aware of it for the most part. The sudden quick-freeze that froze mammoths with undigested food being an exception.

The frozen carcasses have a lot of intact DNA. It may even be possible to clone a few and resurrect them from oblivion. Now wouldn't that be interesting?

__________________
No technology is so obsolete that it won't work. A stone knife still can kill you as dead as a laser.
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 6 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Anonymous Poster (1); EnviroMan (1); Janissaries (1); Jaxy (1); SavvyExacta (1); Taganan (1)

Previous in Blog: Compass Cows – Cattle Aligned with Magnetic North   Next in Blog: Animals of the American West – Yellowstone National Park (Part 1)
You might be interested in: DNA Synthesizers, DNA Sequencers, Conveyor Chain

Advertisement